Category Archives: Hitlist

Softcover and Single-Signature Notebooks from My Collection

On my “to-do” list for this blog has been a comparison of various notebooks in similar styles. I thought I’d do a post about softcover notebooks, and one about single-signature notebooks, similar to Field Notes and Moleskine Cahiers. So I went rooting around in my collection to find various examples of these styles, but the results were a bit daunting:

softcover and cahier1

Not only did I find a rather large number of notebooks, I discovered that there’s kind of grey area between these two styles, so I ended up arranging them in a sort of continuum of variations, from thicker softcover notebooks, through thinner squared-spine ones, to the thinnest single-signature ones with stitched or stapled bindings.

From left, we have the “The II” notebook bought at Kinokuniya, red Piccadilly notebook, softcover Piccadilly notebook, white Conceptum notebook from Germany, Zequenz notebook, Leonardo pocket journal from Papyrus, Fabio Ricci notebook bought in Turkey, Soundless Soliloquy notebook from Etsy, a notebook bought in a museum shop in Portugal, Book Factory pocket notebook, Rendr sketchbook, Canson XL sketchbook, Daler Rowney Ivory sketchbook, Pocket Dept notebook, Rhodia Unlimited notebook, yellow graph paper notebook with green cloth spine from Turkey, Federal Supply Memorandum book, Moleskine Volant, Rite in the Rain waterproof notebook, Clairefontaine notebook from the early 1990s, slipcased German notebook and pencil from Carmen, another old Clairefontaine notebook, a more recent Clairefontaine notebook, Moleskine Cahier, Banditapple Carnet, Miro journals, fluorescent Field Notes given to me by a reader, white notebook from Deyrolle in Paris, Kikkerland Writersblok notebook, Moleskine Cahier decorated by me with stamps, Noted graph paper notebook from Target, Filou notebook bought in Turkey, Northern Central Co. Memorandum book from the late ’70s/early ’80s, Ink Journal, polkadot notebook from Portugal, black school quaderno from Vickerey, white promotional notebook from, (at this point the order gets scrambled in some of the later photos) black Doane Paper Utility Notebook, pale green Bound Custom Journal Memo, HitList notebook, OrangeArt Tattersall notebook, Artescrita 4-pack from Portugal, boxed Calepino notebooks, Word. notebook, Halaby Aero Flightbook, and Hahnemuhle Travel Booklets. Whew! I thought I had also included one other little graph paper stapled notebook that I bought in Portugal, but I can’t spot it in the photos– maybe it’s buried under there somewhere!

softcover and cahier2softcover and cahier3softcover and cahier4softcover and cahier5softcover and cahier6softcover and cahier7softcover and cahier8softcover and cahier9


And of course this isn’t even all the softcover notebooks in my collection. It’s also worth noting that of all these notebooks, the only ones that have actually been used even partially (other than pen tests for reviews) are the two old black/grey Clairefontaine notebooks and the Northern Central Memorandum book. I have other Moleskine Volant and Kikkerland Writersblok notebooks that I have used, but they weren’t the ones in these photos. I will probably use some of the graph paper and plain paper notebooks in the future. I ended up feeling like it was impossible to compare and contrast the features of so many different notebooks, but almost all of them have been photographed and described in more detail in other posts on this site already.

What’s your favorite softcover notebook?

New Homes

… for me and my notebooks! I’ve been posting a little less frequently lately because I’ve been very busy preparing for a move to a new home. My notebooks, of course, are all coming with me, and I’ve been trying to organize them better in the process. For years, I’ve stored them all in shoeboxes, some of which were starting to break down a bit, so I decided to try using larger under-bed plastic boxes. Here’s one of them:

I also got a larger wheeled box for bigger sketchbooks. I’m not sure I’ll stick with this approach– for one thing, all these plastic boxes have angled sides, so they aren’t as efficient as I’d like for storing notebooks. A larger box like this also gets really heavy when it’s stuffed with notebooks! I am always saving shoeboxes so I may end up transferring some notebooks back into newer, sturdier ones, we’ll see… My old apartment had more closet shelves where I could store all my boxes of notebooks, but in my new space, I have to spread them around a bit more– some in a cabinet, some on a shelf, and some under the bed.

Where do you store your notebooks?

Questions from Readers

Here’s a few questions that have come in lately– I need help from all you other notebook lovers!

From Zack:

I really like taking notes when learning. It helps me map out math in my head a lot better than just thinking about it. I’ve been looking for a good large-sized notebook to write in, maybe around A4 sized paper. Can you suggest some? Cost might be an issue, due to being a student.

There are certainly lots of good options for a notebook this size–Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Doane Paper’s large Idea Journal, Whitelines— but they might be a little pricey for a student budget. What’s your favorite lower-priced notebook?

From Park, a similar question:

Hi do you know of any notebooks that WILL NOT BLEED?  I am an excessive notetaker for school and it is extremely vexing when the paper I am using bleeds… Do you have any recommendations of standard sized notebooks that will not bleed? Thanks!

I’m guessing this means an A4 or 8.5×11″ size notebook since this is for school use. Again, Rhodia or Clairefontaine would be good bets, though a bit more expensive than what most students probably want to pay. If you can use something smaller and aren’t worried about price, I’m sure the Hitlist notebook I reviewed recently wouldn’t disappoint!

From Rowland:

I read something a while ago about a ‘notebook’ which opened out sort of Japanese fashion – but into an A3 size – I think they were made and distributed in Singapore.
Any ideas?

I can’t think of any Japanese (accordion fold-out) notebooks other than Moleskine’s, so I’m stumped… below are some more tough ones!

From Rick:

I use a leather-refillable journal for notes, etc, and I tear out used pages, so I am looking for one that has perforated pages to make a clean tear. Do you know of any that are like that?

From Paige:

Hello! I am a high school science teachers, and I want to recommend a notebook for my students for the upcoming year. I would ideally like something like a composition book (where pages aren’t easily removable) that has lined AND blank pages- maybe lined on the front, blank on the back. I will be teaching Astronomy and Earth science, and the notes will be heavy on drawings and sketches, so I want my students to not feel limited by the lines on the page.

TeNeues CoolNotes and Grandluxe Dialogue notebooks have pages that are lined on only one side, but I doubt these are easy enough to find or cheap enough for most high school students, and they’re smaller than a composition book.


Thanks to all my lovely readers for any help or advice you can provide!

Review: Hitlist Notebook

Curt Roper has lived out a fantasy many of us have: he designed his perfect fountain pen friendly notebook, and manufactured it so he could not only have a lifetime supply, but sell it to others too! Let’s take a look at the sample Hitlist notebook he sent me:


I like the design– the cover is solid black except for the tasteful Hitlist logo, and a white strip at the edge with spaces for a subject and date. This is a great idea– since the notebook is staple-bound and doesn’t have a spine, this edge makes it easy to scan through a pile of them to find the notebook you’re looking for.

The other unique feature of this notebook is the little notch at the top of the front cover, which is meant to hold the clip of a pen in place so it won’t slide off.
Another claim of this notebook is that the cover stock is tear-resistant. I can’t say I’ve ever before tested a notebook by trying to tear the cover in half, but I did try pretty hard to rip this one, and produced nothing more than a little rough spot in the edge. This baby is tough.


On the inside front cover, you get a space to write your contact info, and a little blurb on the notebook’s back story.



I also noticed that the staples on the spine are perfectly aligned to the printing of the cover. Nice attention to detail. The edges are very cleanly cut, so it feels like a high-quality product.
The bright white, unlined paper inside also lives up to its promise of being extremely resistant to ink bleeding or showing through. It has a nice smooth, “hard” feel to it and all my pens worked beautifully. Even the dreaded Super Sharpie showed through very little. The paper is quite thick at 148g, so even at only 32 pages, the notebook bulks up in line with other cahier-type books that have higher page counts.


My only beef with this notebook is the taller page size– call me crazy, but I really prefer 3.5 x 5.5, rather than the slightly elongated 5.75 height of the Hitlist. But that’s just me.


Here’s the specs from the Hitlist website, which is currently the only place to buy these:

• Size: 3.5 x 5.75
• 32 blank pages of fountain pen friendly patented 148g archival quality acid free paper.
• Super tough tear resistant cover.
• Easy access subject and date area along spine.
• “CTF Dock” to show off your pen!
• Hitlist pocket notebooks come in packs of 5 held together by a long lasting silicone band.

They are made in Canada, so pricing is in Canadian dollars. At CAN$24.95 (plus shipping) for a 5-pack (with lower prices available for buying multiple packs), these are a bit more expensive than most– the closest comparison in terms of quality might be the Doane Paper utility notebooks, which are US$9.50-10.50 for a 3-pack. But the Hitlist notebook does turn things up a notch in terms of the paper. I think this is a great product, and I hope he is able to expand his distribution and product line– perhaps a hardcover version? Lined, gridded and dot grid versions? Other sizes and colors? Bring it on!